On the contrary, an A Level student should explore potential situations and contexts in order to identify an opportunity for a project that is ambiguous, authentic and gives them autonomy to develop a design solution that is unique to their project. In order to achieve this, projects should:
- be broad ranging
- offer real-world contexts representing contemporary issues
- be open-ended, avoiding predetermining the materials or processes to be used
- focus on needs, wants and values of different groups, leading learners to address problems and/or opportunities
- be accessible and relevant to the endorsed title they are following
Initiating a project is often one of the hardest activities to engage students in, but with a more complex A Level project it is essential that every student is fully engaged with their own project. There will though be multiple ways to support students in exploring potential briefs, but as a last resort you may want them to look at contextual challenges from GCSE or AS Level. This approach is not recommended though as a default as it will be far more limiting.
It is also important to note that although group discussions around a context are perfectly acceptable when initiating the NEA, the direction of travel should be that of the individual students. Teachers should become facilitators, enabling students to develop an understanding of the contexts by challenging them to challenge themselves. This can best be achieved by becoming a critical friend. All interactions with others, including their teacher (beyond generic delivery), should be recorded within students’ portfolios.